A Day in Southern Alsace: Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Colmar II Where to go in Alsace

It was the PERFECT November day: golden foliage and the crisp smell of fall surrounding us and after SO long of hearing about "the pretty part of Alsace" we were heading there. 

Some history: Pyk's fam is originally from Alsace and his grandparents are still there. The few times we've been there before it's literally rained the. whole. time. 

Even in the summer.

So, when he told me he'd like to spend his ONLY weekend off from rugby since September in Alsace visiting his grandparents, instead of in Italy on the Almafi coast as we originally planned, I was less than thrilled. Though that was totally the spoiled travel part of Katie aching, the family part of me was like "Hell yes, I love his grandparents." Because I do. They're awesome and have funny Alsatian accents and love drinking beer. Right up my ally.

Okay, back to Alsace and that PERFECT fall day. 

We're here for four days, at least half of which will be spent hanging out with his family in their village, hopping from a cousins house, to an aunts house, to a great uncle's house, to a grandparents house.. at all of which you drink beer and have snacks or full blown meals. It's a miracle we don't roll home like the blueberry kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to be quite honest. 

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Bretzels in Ribeauvillé

Bretzels in Ribeauvillé

Strategically, we planned our two days where we'll travel around the weather. Thursday would be the nicest so it's the day we decided to take on our day trip and holy guacamole I'm so glad we did. During the last 20 minutes of the hour drive south we were surrounded by blue skies, tiny puffy clouds, the Vosges mountain range, and VINEYARDS.

Yes, you read that correctly. 

Vineyards!

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And all of them a golden yellow and perfectly autumn-aged for our viewing pleasure. 

To say the views driving were spectacular is an understatement. I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw French autumnal landscapes so stunning. Probably never. 

INSIDER TIP: Head to Alsace in the Fall. Yes, you arrive before the craziness/fun of the Christmas markets but it's absolutely countered by the incredible landscape. 

Note: We had a car for this whole day which I'd totally recommend. Traffic was nonexistent and parking was about 3 euros for 2 hours wherever we went. 

RIBEAUVILLE:

So, we started in Ribeauvillé, easily parking and then walking into the center of the village. It was super cute. We spent about an hour walking around and during that time got a bretzel from a local street vendor that had yummy bakery smells coming out of it. (Yes, Bretzel, pretzel is apparently not the authentic spelling, who knew!) The trick to these little towns when you have no idea where to get good food/drink or local snacks is to follow your nose. If good smells are coming from a bakery, most likely you're getting fresh products! 

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The village is small and is on a slight hill. There are some souvenir shops that seemed a little tourist trappy so we didn't stop much. My favorite areas were: 

1. The "Quartier Pittoresque" aka the picturesc neighborhood, which was totally not a neighborhood but a cute street that definitely lived up to it's name.

2. The funny bar at the top of the hill of the village that had a huge photo of a monk in an ale bottle on it's van and storefront. I also appreciated this sign:

Loosely translated it says, "The opening hour depends on how many beers our staff drank the night before". I applaud a bar that is THAT sold on it's beer and atmosphere that the staff joins in the fun too. 

 

RIQUEWIHR (Pronounced Reek-veere)

When you get here you realize at once that this village is a much bigger tourist attraction. There were a few tourist groups but not so many to ruin your day. The whole town is on an incline and has pretty cobble stoned streets and incredibly beautiful architecture everywhere you turn. There are a few shops selling traditional Alsatian things which was nice to see. There are a few restaurants/bars (that fill up QUICK for lunch) and the most BEAUTIFUL Christmas shop that I've ever seen. Honestly, it's Christmas heaven. Buddy the Elf would live there in a heartbeat.

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All of the restaurants that we tried were totally packed.. We were 4 people so maybe a couple would have more luck but a family would DEFINITELY have to get there earlier. We got there around 1:30pm. We ended up finding a restaurant that honestly, was a weird experience. It went against every foodie grain in my body: no one inside already eating, nothing cooking so you couldn't smell the savors, and a menu totally different than what is readily available locally. But we were hungry and the grandparents lead us in. In the end I had a small salad- Forgettable.  

I'd definitely recommend to try some of the bar/restaurants on the main street. It's a small village so there aren't many but damn did it smell good when you walked into them... And all of them were serving super limited menus of classic Alsatian food. I'm still bummed we didn't get into any of them. 

After out weird lunch we headed over to the Christmas shop and then to the car.. Off to..

 

KAYSEREBERG

I literally thought that Belle was going to pop out of one of the houses here. IT WAS SO FREAKING CUTE. Definitely my favorite of the three villages other than the Christmas shop part. 

This village was SO calm, so quaint, had this lovely little stream going through it, and had adorable fountains and magnificent views of the surrounding vineyards. There's a beautiful hotel and a 2 Michelin star restaurant in the center. I honestly am so so sad to have only been there for the day and not have the chance to stay there. It's definitely on my list to go back to. I'd absolutely love to spend the day in this little town, walking around, hiking up the mountain and eating yummy Alsatian food. 

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The sun was almost setting so we had to hightail it over to...

COLMAR

To be honest, I had high hopes for Colmar. Everyone who's been to Alsace always talks about how amazing Colmar is. Honestly, sure, I see where they're coming from but from our little promenade in the city, I'm hesitant to give too much praise.

While it has absolutely STUNNING buildings, a beautiful church and even a little Venice that was super charming.. I didn't feel that same Alsatian village feel as in the other villages we'd visited. I mean, they have a Zara and an H&M... That should say enough. No French village would have those. It's more of a city and I think wasn't at all what I was searching for in the middle of this beautiful part of France. Though take what I say about Colmar with a grain of salt.. it was also the end of the day, we were cold and tired and I fell so deeply in love with Riquewihr and Kaysersberg that it was hard to rival. 

What I think we'll have to do next time we're here is stay a night or two in that gorgeous little hotel in Kaysersberg and during those days spend a few more hours in Colmar and give it another chance.

All in all, we had an amazing day.. We walked about 5 or 6 miles and discovered a part of this beautiful region under the golden autumnal sun.. If that's not perfect I'm not sure what is.  

An Ode to You II Lifestyle Women Portraits by Katie Donnelly

The Invitation

by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing

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It doesn’t interest me

how old you are.

I want to know

if you will risk

looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.

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It doesn’t interest me

what planets are

squaring your moon…

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

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I want to know

if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you

to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations

of being human.

It doesn’t interest me

if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear

the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless

and therefore trustworthy.

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I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

I want to know

if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

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It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after the night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

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It doesn’t interest me

where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know

what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.

I want to know

if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep

in the empty moments.

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I found this poem ages and ages ago, and every time I read it, I feel it.

Every time I read it, it’s somehow transformed and goes deeper. 

I hope you feel it too. 

- Katie

P.S. I took these portraits for fun and to get my creative juices going. They're of the incredibly talented Shyrell, Owner of Enchanté Studios. Thank you for being my muse and friend.

P.P.S If you’re looking for a local Hawaii photographer, I’d recommend getting in touch with the incredible Aubrey Hord. You won’t be disappointed.  

Photo Gallery Wall + Album Inspiration II How to display your portraits (So they don’t live and die on your hard drive)

If you’ve ever been to our Parisian apartment, you’ll know that we absolutely LOVE having portraits of us, our family, and our travels up on the walls as our decoration. Pyk also gave me two framed Beatles art photographs that we have above our couch that we absolutely cherish! 

It’s one of the things I love most when you walk into someone’s home is that you see who they are, what they love, and what they use to fill their home with joy. As an extremely visual person and photographer, I fill our home with photographs and other art that inspires us. We even have a framed magazine cover that my aunt gave me when I moved to France, the ticket from the bottle of wine we opened with my in-laws to celebrate our engagement, and a wall light in the form of the word, “Smile”. 

You look around and you feel us.

Over here at KDP we help our clients all the time create the PERFECT wall portraits, gallery walls and albums. We consider our job unfinished until you have something from your portrait session adorning your home or at the least, in a stunning album. 

Here are a few photographs I did recently and how we would make them come to life as art in your home. 

How do you display your photographs? Tell us in the comments!

TURN THESE:

INTO THIS:

This is 2 framed, 20x24in portraits, and 2 framed, 16x20in portraits

This is 2 framed, 20x24in portraits, and 2 framed, 16x20in portraits

TURN THESE:

INTO THIS:

This is our Legacy album, a stunning 10x10in bespoke album - The ultimate family heirloom!

This is our Legacy album, a stunning 10x10in bespoke album - The ultimate family heirloom!

P.S. These were shot for fun in Hawaii as an inspiration session, if you’re interested in an incredible local photographer in Hawaii, I’d recommend Aubrey Hord

(VIDEO) Paris Photographer, Katie Donnelly Interviewed by Kirbanu

Interviews are so revealing and intimate. I was really humbled when the incredible artist Kirbanu asked me to be a part of her artist interview series while she was passing through Paris a few months ago. 

Kirbanu and I talk about a lot of personal things here: 

  • Lots of reasons why I started family photography in the first place
  • The emotional path of entrepreneurship
  • Advice for other photographers and entrepreneurs starting out on their dreams

I feel a bit naked and vulnerable sharing a lot of intimate things with the internet, but I think honesty and transparency is so important. If you take the time to watch, thank you for letting me share a bit of me with you.  (ALERT: It’s a bit long! I can’t seem to stop talking and we literally ran out of battery at the end!). 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the video in the comments below!

PS. if you want a laugh I kind of look like I have dinosaur arms in the video with this dress (HA!)

Want to get in touch and have your own Paris photo session with me? Get in touch here

Celebrating 40 in Style II Paris Lifestyle Photographer, Katie Donnelly

I absolutely LOVED it when I got Keisha's first email asking about dong a birthday session for herself and with her partner. I love when people celebrate themselves, we don't do it enough in nice ways.. I think it's really important in life to have respect for others and yourself, If you don't it's easy to make choices that aren't good for you and those you love in the long run.

Getting portraits done in a city that she loves was one of those ways of showing up and saying, "This is me at 40, and I'm proud of that!" Confidence, respect, and humility are so important in life and you can tell each time you speak with her that she exudes all three.

I say it all the time and I'll say it again and again, my clients are the best. Keisha, it was a joy working with you!! Thank you so much for choosing me to document such a beautiful moment for you two.

WHAT SHE SAID: "Oh my goodness Katie we absolutely LOVE these pictures!!! Steven can't stop talking about what a great job you did.  Thank you for everything! Keisha"

WHAT SHE SAID:

"Oh my goodness Katie we absolutely LOVE these pictures!!! Steven can't stop talking about what a great job you did. 

Thank you for everything!

Keisha"